May 11, 2011

Sr. José Eduardo Cardozo
Federal Minister of Justice
Exmo. Ministro
Ministério da Justiça
Esplanada dos Ministérios
Bloco “T”, 70712-902 – Brasília/DF Brasil
Fax: + 55 61 3322 6817/ 3224 3398

Sra. Maria do Rosário Nunes 
Federal Human Rights Secretary
Secretaria Especial de Direitos Humanos
Exmo. Secretário Especial
Esplanada dos Ministérios
Bloco “T” – 4º andar, 70064-900 Brasília/DF Brasil
Fax: + 55 61 3226 7980

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our extreme alarm regarding the murder of journalist Valério Nascimento.

According to our information, Nascimento, journalist and owner of Panorama Geral, was fatally shot in the head and chest just outside of his home in Rio Claro, Rio de Janeiro state, on the morning of May 3, 2011. Authorities have not yet determined a motive for the murder; however it is believed to have been related to political commentaries Nascimento published in recent editions of his paper. Another local news source, O Globo, reported that the latest issue of Nascimento’s paper had uncovered “irregularities” in the administration of the mayor of the neighboring town of Bananal, and that Panorama Geral had also criticized the management of Bananal’s public services. It is now believed that Nascimento may have been targeted in order to halt his publication of these critical views.

Nascimento is one of three Brazilian journalists to have faced violent retribution for their critical publications in 2011 alone. On March 24, blogger Ricardo Gama was shot in the head, neck, and chest and seriously injured by an unknown assailant while walking in his Rio de Janeiro neighborhood. Weeks later, radio and television journalist Luciano Leitão Pedrosa was fatally shot in a restaurant in Vitória de Santo Antão, northeastern Pernambuco state, on April 9, reportedly in retaliation for his condemnation of local authorities and criminal groups.

PEN American Center is deeply concerned for the safety of journalists in Brazil and fears that the murder of Valério Nascimento points to a rising climate of impunity in Brazil. We therefore urge authorities to initiate a full and impartial investigation into his murder, as well as all other unsolved crimes against journalists as a matter of urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula                                              
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee           
Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Ambassador Almir Barbuda
Embassy of Brazil to the United States
1030 15th Street, NW
Washington DC 20005
Fax: (202) 461-3001


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